Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

A Pacifist at St. Jim’s

The most famous protest against the war in 1917 was Siegfried Sassoon’s. Much less well-remembered is the sudden and vocal conversion to pacifism of Skimpole, of St Jim’s School, as recorded in the Gem comic.

‘Horniman’s Choice’ at the Finborough

You could write the significant history of English theatre in the twentieth century by tracing the careers of three dynamic women: Annie Horniman, Lilian Baylis and Joan Littlewood. Of these, Horniman is probably the least known, but when she took over the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester a hundred years ago, it was the beginning of […]

Billy Bunter versus the Suffragettes

This November I’ll be giving a talk on the wartime Magnet comics to the Being Young in World War One conference in Manchester. I’ll be arguing that the comics had a nuanced approach to the war, remaining firmly patriotic while suggesting that the demands of war should not make people forget the civilised decencies of […]

Ernst Junger’s ‘Sturm’

Ernst Junger is best known for his 1920 memoir, Storm of Steel, but he wrote a good deal besides. The publishing firm Telos is issuing translations of several of his works, and the latest, published today, is Sturm, a novella of 1923. Telos kindly let me read the text before publication, and here is my […]

Lady Chatterley’s biscuits

I mentioned Lady Chatterley a few weeks back, and since then I’ve been thinking about her again. In fact I’ve won a prize with her. From time to time I enter the Spectator literary competitions, and a recent task was to imagine a scene from a famous novel if it had been sponsored by some […]

The ‘New Yorker’ gets Kipling wrong

A hundred years ago today, John Kipling died at Loos. The New Yorker has marked the anniversary with an article by Nina Martyris which is not bad till it gets near the end, when she gives us a paragraph that repeats some standard myths, and therefore gets a great deal wrong:

The Battle of Loos

On September 25th, 1915, the Battle of Loos began. Last year I contributed a short account of the battle as a programme note for Doctor Scroggy’s War at Shakespeare’s Globe, in London. Here it is: The Battle of Loos ‘Loos was no picnic.’ – Richard Hannay, in John Buchan’s Greenmantle, 1916. On Saturday 25th September, […]

On the night that the old cow died

You look for one thing and find another. I was checking a reference in the New Statesman of 1917 (in the pleasant Archive Room of the newly restored Central Reference Library in Manchester), and flicked through the rest of the bound volume to see what else was interesting. Much was – a grudging review of […]

Who’s the man with the big red nose?

The most enigmatic of the songs collected in F.T. Nettleingham’s Tommy’s Tunes (1917) is, in its entirety, this: (Click the picture for a better view) Wondering what this was about, I’ve searched the Internet, and found an Australian drinking song – I think the sort where you have to down the pint before they end […]

The Kipling Journal

Officers of the Irish Guards, Warley. John Kipling third from left. The September Kipling Journal arrived here yesterday. It is a special edition devoted to the theme of Kipling and the Great War, marking the centenary of the death of  John Kipling, at Loos. It contains a very useful piece by Tonie and Valmai Holt […]


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